As the ongoing crisis in public universities continues, there are indications that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may resume discussion with the Federal Government delegation next Monday, 16th May.
This is as students across several universities continued their protests demanding an end to the protracted situation that has kept them out of academic activities for months.
The Chairman of the Federal University of Technology, Minna chapter of ASUU, Dr Gbolahan Bolarin confirmed the meeting to The PUNCH in an interview.
Bolarin, who is also a membr of ASUU’s National Executive Council (NEC) said: “I am aware there will be a meeting coming up next week from 16th May with the government, but we are not aware of any invitation from the Minister of Labour and Employment. Holding a meeting is not the issue, the most important thing is the implementation.
“They will call us for meetings and then say the government does not have the money. When aviation declared strike, they settled it because they are mostly affected. Once our leaders are not affected, they do not care. When bad fuel was imported, they did not really care. Our leaders are not sincere, the day the government becomes sincere, issues will be settled.
“We have given them 12 weeks and we hope that they will resolve the issues within this window. This is something they can resolve within a day if they are serious”.
On Monday, ASUU had extended the its action by 12 weeks following a meeting of its NEC a day earlier at its University of Abuja secretariat.
ASUU President, Dr Emmanuel Osodeke said the extension was aimed at giving the government more time to satisfactorily resolve the issues.
Meanwhile, students in several universities intensified peaceful protests across the campuses and in other strategic locations. At the University of Ilorin on Tuesday, they expressed their disappointment over the ongoing strike by ASUU, threatening to boycott the 2023 general elections if the government allowed the strike to linger.
The students said they planned to take their protest to major places like the Government House, roads linking Ilorin Airport, state House of Assembly, Federal Secretariat, police headquarters, and the Department of State Services this week.
The protesting students lamented their continued stay at home due to the strike and called on the Federal Government to meet ASUU’s demands to enable them to complete their academic activities.
The Students Union President, Taofik Waliu told reporters that the protest was aimed at creating awareness among stakeholders and members of the public.
Waliu said: “We want to graduate. The Federal Government should meet ASUU’s demands. We don’t plan to move around town today. We hope that soon, the ASUU strike will be a thing of the past whereby about-to-be graduates can graduate and 300 Level students can move up, and so on.
“However, if nothing fruitful comes out after the Federal Government’s meeting with ASUU this week, we will move en masse continuously with other students of 10 educational institutions in the state to block roads to various places in the state capital to register our displeasure over the lingering strike.
“This is just to send a message to the government that we are tired and they should meet ASUU’s demands.”
The state chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Salman Yisa called on state governors to intervene, adding that the issue is beyond the Federal Government.
Students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, moved to Lagos to stage similar protest on the strike at major media organisations including Channels Television and The PUNCH, located along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
The students said they stormed the media houses because they believed their grievances would be publicised.
The President of the OAU Student Union Government, Olayiwola Folarin described their action as a warning, adding that they had plans to hit the streets, if nothing was done soonest.
The union’s Welfare Officer, Dada Arafat said, “We are in solidarity with ASUU, appealing for the reopening of schools and provision of funds meant for laboratories and structures”.
The union’s Clerk, Odetunde Dickson added that students were tired of constant industrial action.
On Tuesday, OAU management directed all students to vacate their halls of residence.
A statement by the Dean of Student Affairs, Prof. I. O. Aransi said students must comply with the directive not later than Friday, 13th May.
According to him, the directive was a sequel to the latest development on the ongoing strike embarked upon by all the staff unions in the nation’s federal universities.
“To this end, all undergraduate and postgraduate students in the halls of residence are directed to vacate their respective hostels and go home till further notice.
“It is our hope that issues necessitating the strike action will be resolved as soon as possible,” the statement read.